Queen's Diamond Jubilee river pageant comes to an end


David Mercer
Wednesday 06 June 2012 11:26

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee river pageant reached its end as the 1,000-strong flotilla passed under Tower Bridge.

The belfry carrying The Royal Jubilee Bells was the first vessell through, followed by the million-pound row barge Gloriana led by Olympic gold medallists Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave, rowing with 16 others.

A 41 gun salute was fired from the Tower of London to celebrate the Queen's 60 years on the throne while thousands of people cheered on the banks of the River Thames despite the wet weather.

The bascules of Tower Bridge opened for the arrival of the royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, as the Royal Family prepared to take their places on HMS President to watch the rest of the seven mile-long flotilla making its way down the Thames.

The Queen watched from HMS President as the procession of boats and ships continued to pass under Tower Bridge.

The pageant achieved a new world record for the largest parade of boats - surpassing the previous record of 327 boats in Bremerhaven, Germany, last year, Guinness World Records said.

The record was announced as 419 boats reached the bridge, with up to 1,000 vessels expected to complete the pageant.

The wet weather forced the cancellation of a flyover by nine Royal Navy helicopters and a Fairey Swordfish biplane for the pageant finale.

Umbrellas and waterproof clothing remained out in force on the banks of the Thames as rain continued to fall for the close of the pageant.

Friends Sarankumar Chandrasekar, 22, and Suhail Vilangil, 25, said they were proud to see London's "greatest moment" after moving to the UK from India two years ago.

Mr Chandrasekar, who now lives in Stratford, east London, said: "This is the greatest moment for London so it's not something you can miss.

"It's a proud moment for us to be here and see the Queen from only 50 metres away."

Mr Vilangil added: "We wouldn't let a small thing like rain put us off. There are so many people here who have been so friendly."

Semera Khan, from Sutton, south west London, said it was clear which member of the royal family received the best reception from the crowd.

Ms Khan said: "The Queen got the biggest cheer. It was brilliant to be here with such an excellent view. It's not going to happen again in my lifetime so I didn't want to miss out."

The final vessel to reach Tower Bridge was Symphony, carrying members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir.

The singers got soaked to the bone as they performed several songs to the royal family including Land Of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia and the national anthem.

Fireworks were then set off from the top of Tower Bridge before the bascules of the bridge were lowered as many boats sounded their horns.

An estimated 1.25 million people watched the pageant through London, the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation said.

Guinness World Records said a total of 670 verified boats completed the pageant route to achieve the new world record.

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